THE then head of Western Australia’s vice squad made a “bedtime confession” to his lover that he’d killed brothel madam Shirley Finn, an inquest into her 1975 execution-style murder has heard.
After hearings in 2017 and last year, the inquest resumed in the WA Coroner’s Court on Monday, when Craig Klauber said Carolyn Langan shared personal information with him as they became close friends working together at CSIRO in the late 1980s.
One Monday morning, she rushed into his office and said Bernie Johnson had confessed to murdering Ms Finn.
“I think she was serious,” Dr Klauber said.
“I think she told me because she was a little bit frightened.”
He said he believed she told him so there would be a link to Mr Johnson if something happened to her, but she asked him not to pass the information for the sake of her safety.
Later, Ms Langan was visibly shaken and pale when she told him that Mr Johnson had threatened her “with a shotgun to the face”.
“She was clearly very frightened,” Dr Klauber said.
He said she’d also told him other things suggesting Mr Johnson might have been “a bit shady”, including his friendship with former NSW detective and convicted murderer Roger Rogerson, and buried gold at his rural property in Gidgegannup.
Dr Klauber said Mr Johnson twice threatened him, once in a veiled way when he mentioned someone in hospital in a serious condition and a few weeks later when he said “I don’t know what you’ve heard but whatever you think is wrong”.
Ms Langan denies the claims by Dr Klauber, who came forward after hearing her testimony last year, telling the court it disturbed him how much she left out.
Ms Langan will give evidence again later this week and has described Dr Klauber as a gossiper, but he insists he knows what he heard.
“Events are very, very clear in my mind,” he said.
Ms Finn was wearing a ball gown when she was shot four times in the head at point blank range in her distinctive Dodge Phoenix on the edge of Royal Perth Golf Club either late on June 21, 1975 or early the following day.
Mr Johnson had dementia before he died last year, so he did not give evidence to the inquest.